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The Daegu World 400m champion says basketball is her favorite sport and that she plans to stop running after the 2016 Rio Olympics to pursue her much loved sport.
The first elite female athlete of any acclaim to come out of Botswana, Amantle Montsho started running when she was 12 and in primary school. A year later, when she went to secondary school (equivalent to the lower levels of high school in the United States,) her passion for athletics only grew stronger.
By 1999, physical education pilot programs were incorporated into schools in Botswana, but Montsho missed some meets that provided the much needed outlet and competition because her parents could not afford the costs associated with them. In addition, there was nowhere to turn for scholarships. However, her parents managed to get her into whatever meet they could.
The young Montsho soon had to deal with the cultural view in her country, where to be thin is simply interpreted as being underfed or sick. However, undeterred by that perception, she continued to participate in local competitions, doing mainly sprints such as the 100m. She also began attracting the attention of Botswana National Sports Council members, who were eagerly trying to cultivate new talents. Montsho was so enthusiastic, whenever she missed training, she would run in any available open space. Her dedication paid off, for she began improving and gaining access to coaches affiliated with the Council.
In 2004, Montsho competed in the Athens Olympic Games as the country’s first female Olympian. It was an eye opener and she has not looked back. A year later, in 2005, she was at the World Championship Games in Helsinki, Finland and then in 2006 in Melbourne, Australia for the Commonwealth Games. She again participated at the World Championships in Osaka, Japan in 2007. That she did not reach the finals in any of these meets was not a deterrent.
The two-time African Championships gold medalist over 400m won titles in the event at the 2007 All-Africa Games, the 2010 IAAF Continental Cup and the 2010 Commonwealth Games with a games record time of 50.10 secs. Her Commonwealth victory made her Botswana’s first ever gold medalist at the Games.
With much improvement and experience form these Games, Montsho took her first World title at the Daegu Games when she beat American Allyson Felix with a time of 49.56secs.
A hot favorite for gold in Moscow in 2013, the usually shy and modest Montsho looked a sure winner down the homestretch of the 400m final, but was oblivious to the pursuits of the steadily closing Christine Ohuruogu of Great Britain, who caught her at the line and dipped for the gold as Montsho remained upright for the silver, losing the race by a mere four thousandths of a second.
After the race, Montsho remarked that she didn’t see Ohuruogu coming and that she also didn’t know how to lean at the line. She subsequently said she learned from that experience and vowed never to repeat what happened to her in Moscow.